Bullhorn: Campus Construction Update

Here to Stay

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences sports an old-school material made for today’s high-tech buildings

Terra-cotta tiles being installed on the facade of the building's exterior.

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Lab benches, check. Electricity, check. Locally sourced terra-cotta tiles? Check! In time for the holidays, the new building for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is entering the final phase of construction, getting finishing touches on the inside while being wrapped up in a massive terra-cotta bow. Found on rooftops throughout Europe, and a defining feature of numerous Buffalo landmarks (including the Peace Bridge), the age-old earthenware material is known for its durability and good looks. And Western New York boasts one of the world’s most prolific terra-cotta manufacturers.

Boston Valley Terra Cotta, which also is working with the UB School of Architecture and Planning on some installations in Hayes Hall, has been a family-owned business since 1889. It beat out two German firms to win the Jacobs School contract and is busy producing 28,006 custom panels—each one weighing in at 60 pounds—that will be installed to make up 105,000 square feet of the new medical school building’s high-performance “skin.” HOK, the building’s design firm, contacted Boston Valley during the conceptual design phase, rightly thinking that using terra cotta would pay homage to Buffalo’s rich architectural history. Oh, and the tiles will last for hundreds of years. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

By the Numbers

What it takes to build a modern medical school


cubic yards of concrete


terra-cotta panels covering
105,000 square feet
acres of drywall

power outlets


tons of rebar